The blues and the rock have finally started in the lower and middle regions of the Chesapeake Bay. Large rockfish have been coming in frequently for nearly two weeks and the blues are hitting well for trollers, clummers and surf fishermen.
But any Chesapeake Bay fisherman worth his brine knows that in normal years the rock and blues should have been providing good sport for several weeks by now. It's been a cold, rainy spring, and the fish just had a hard time warming up to the lure.
What's really needed is a few days of warm, dry weather. The water is still below 60 degrees; normally it would be between 65 and 70. The result is that the blues, which are large and plentiful this year, and a bit sluggish.
The mixed up weather has also mixed up the largemouth bass. By this time last year most of them were through spawning. Largemouths spawn at about 60 degrees, but many lakes are just hitting that now. The result is that the spawning is protracted or delayed. Warm, calm weather will put the bass on their beds. We might even see the bass hang around the shallows in the big lakes longer than usual this year because the water temperature is behind schedule. Once the water's above 70, start looking for the bass in deeper water.
The Eastern Shore ponds warm faster. Spawning in them is probably more on schedule, but they have frequently been discolored this spring by heavy rain. When they clear they will be good bets for bass, pickerel and bluegill.
Though bass and Bay fishermen have suffered from the weather, trout fishermen have had it easy. Foul weather has kept water levels high enough to keep the fish from getting super spooky, as they will later in the season when the water will be low. The weather has also reduced the pressure on the streams, so the stocked streams, which get fished-out quickly, sould produce fish longer than usual. UPPER BAY
Some white perch and pickerel on minnows in the Seven and Magothy. Trollers using No. 19 Tonys getting some rock at Dumpling Grounds. MIDDLE BAY
Mostly blues with some good rock mixed in are coming in on the charter boats out of Chesapeake Beach and Deale. The best areas have been from the mile markers at Matapeake south to Bloody Point and the C&R, 69, 70 and 71 buoys. Some are also at the Gum Thickets. Blues will improve as the weather warms. Trolled Tonys, bucktails and hoses are best. LOWER BAY
The Lower Bay is finally getting started. Large rock over 30 pounds are being taken frequently. The fish are near the surface. Troll No. 19 and 21 Tonys or 7/0 bucktails with plenty of pork rind from long lines with four to six ounces of lead. Work the Gooses, best, to the Southwest Middle Grounds on either side of the ship channel. Blues hit well for chummers, and surf fishermen have been getting large ones at Points Lookout. MARYLAND FRESHWATER
ROCKY GORGE/TRIDELPHIA: Crappie are hitting well on minnows in the shallows. Most are small, but one two-pound, four-ounce beauty was taken this week by Robert Chissler of Gaitherburg. Some good bass; they'll on their beds with the first string of warm days.
LIBERTY: Crappies and a few bass on small shiners and nightcrawlers.
CONOWINGO ABOVE DAM: Some crappies and bass on minnows, worms and Mepps spinners, best around Broad Creek for nice crappies.
CONOWINGO BELOW DAM: Catfish, white perch, carp, some bass, crappie and few shad.
LOCH RAVEN: Some good catches of crappie and some bass; small shiners and nightcrawlers best.
EASTERN SHORE: Chicamicomico producing nice crappie and some bass; Transquaking producing crappie and a few bass up to two pounds. try minnows, spinners and spinnerbaits. Blackwater producing crappies and white perch on minnows. Upper Choptank yielding scattered bass and crappie on minnows, darts and spinnerbaits. Boat fishermen using bloodworms are taking white perch from the Choptank at Chancellor's Point one mile above the U.S. 50 bridge. Most ponds are milky and slow. Johnson Pond producing crappie, bluegill, bass and pickerel. VIRGINIA FRESHWATER
GREAT FALLS AND RIVER BEND PARK: Smallmouths should still be available, but the high water has slowed them down; large shiners best.
BURKE LAKE: Fair catches of bass ad crappie on plastic worms and minnows from the backside of the lake - not the side with the marina. Bass running one to two pounds.
OCCOQUAN: Muddy and slow. Some crappie on minnows; a few bass on dark plugs or plastic worms.
LAKE ANNA: Slow with foul weather. Bass are still on the top; water 58 degrees. Spawning seems to be drawn out due to weather. Speed shad still best. Crappie are plentiful but mostly small. OCEAN
OCEAN CITY: Fair cataches of flouder at the U.S. 50 bridge on bucktails and frozen shiners. Sea bass starting on the wrecks. Blues, five to 12 pounds, also starting. WASHINGTON
The river has been high and off-color , but will be normal by Saturday if there's no more rain. Catfish and a few crappie were about all that hit during the week, but shad and white perch should be available again when the water level drops.